Left back was very much a problem position for West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini last season, who couldn’t decide between Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell.
However, by the end of the campaign, the DR Congo international had very much made the starting spot his own on the left hand side of the defence.
Even worse news for Cresswell, then, is that the emergence of young star Ben Johnson has put his spot anywhere near the Hammers first team under serious threat.
The 19-year-old made just one Premier League appearance for Pellegrini’s side last term, but he got the nod to start at left back for West Ham’s first pre season game against Austrian side SCR Altach on Thursday.
Even though Pellegrini’s decision to go with the 19-year-old was an enforced one – Masuaku has been on African Cup of Nations duty and Cresswell had a slight knock – the teenager ensured he made the most of his opportunity in the 3-2 victory.
Johnson was terrific, putting in yet another assured performance that belied his tender years. Capable of playing in both full back positions, there’s no doubt that the youngster will be an important player for Pellegrini next season. How important he’ll be, though, is still up for debate.
Indeed, if he can produce outings like this when it counts then he could well render Cresswell irrelevant. The England international has been first choice at the London Stadium for the majority of the five years he has been with the club, but his spot in the team is now very much at risk.
We thought the big threat was Masuaku, but after watching Johnson strut his stuff on Thursday, it appears the keenest danger may come from a far younger source.